Sam Smith MTV VMA Nomination Continues Conversation For Nonbinary Award Show Category

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LISBON, PORTUGAL - JULY 08: Sam Smith performs on the NOS stage during day 3 of NOS Alive festival on July 08, 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Photo by Pedro Gomes/Redferns

The 2023 MTV Video Music Award nominees were announced today, and one category noticeably did not include any male artists. In the coveted Video of The Year category, there were notably only women and nonbinary nominees. The artists include Taylor Swift for “Anti-Hero”, SZA for “Kill Bill”, Miley Cyrus for “Flowers”, Olivia Rodrigo for “vampire”, Doja Cat for “Attention”, Nicki Minaj for “Super Freaky Girl”, and Sam Smith and Kim Petras for “Unholy.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 05: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Sam Smith performs during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/FilmMagic)


Smith is the first nonbinary artist to be nominated in this category, and Petras is the first trans woman, while simultaneously having a song on the Billboard Hot 100. Smith is the first nonbinary performer to be nominated in the category. While this category has always been gender neutral, Smith’s nomination is continuing the conversation surrounding the need for a nonbinary category at major award shows.

Smith’s Historic Nomination

Smith’s continued acclaim in the music industry for “Unholy” has been met with mixed reactions.

Conservative media personalities continue to reflect largely homophobic views towards the nonbinary community. Elsewhere, other award shows tend to separate performers by gender, and nonbinary performers and women have divided opinions on a solution.

Some feel that the gendered categories should be neutralized, while other women feel that a third category should be added for nonbinary performers, so as to not close the door on female-identifying artists. Fans of Smith were quick to defend their identity on social media amid backlash regarding MTV’s respect of Smith’s pronouns.


Others accused Smith of identifying as nonbinary for attention, pointing to fellow musician Demi Lovato as a reference. Lovato previously identified exclusively as nonbinary, but recently stated that she is now comfortable using “she” and “they” pronouns after the “exhausting” experience of educating everyone around her.

Fans of the singer continue to work towards educating audiences on nonbinary performers.

Months prior to the announcement, actor Bella Ramsey notably spoke on the need for a nonbinary acting category. Ramsey portrays Ellie Williams in the smash hit HBO show “The Last Of Us,” for which they were nominated for an Emmy.


Ramsey was largely met with support for their statements.

Ramsey’s identity and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community has largely been supported by their “The Last Of Us” costar Pedro Pascal. The actor has long been an outspoken supporter of the community, especially given that his sister, actress Lux Pascal, is openly transgender.

The MTV VMA Awards will take place on September 12 2023, live from Newark, New Jersey. It is unclear whether the date for the show will be pushed back as a result of the ongoing joint WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike at this time.

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